Chapter 5: “What if Nobody Wants Us?”

Topics Covered

Isolationism and Anti-Semitism in the United States

Quotes From The Film

  • “There's a chance that America doesn't want us either. Who's to say that we'll be allowed in?"

— Malvina, 11 years old in 1940


  • “There was a very very strong isolationist tendency in the United States at the time and people didn't want to get involved in the European affairs."

— Harry, 18 years old in 1940

Put Yourself in Their Shoes:

  • How would you feel if you were forced to leave your county and no other country would take you in?

  • If your religion were attacked in hate speaches, how would you feel?

  • What could you do to counteract that bigotry?

Personal Connection:

  • Have you ever witnessed or been a victim of hate speech? How did it make you feel?

Dig a little deeper....

  • Why do you think there were hate speeches in the US in the 30's and 40's?

  • How did people and groups counter these hate speeches?

  • Who was Father Coughlin and how influential was he on Americans' perceptions of Jews at the time?

  • How did the German American Bund fit into a pattern of hate speech in the US?

  • In the film, Blanche Wisen Cook said that 150,000 refugees could have been admitted into the US in 1940 but less than 4,000 were. Why do you think the US was so isolationist before and during World War II?

  • Look at this Dr. Seuss political cartoon, the Statue of Liberty illustration and "America First" photos that were in the film. Describe how each image below makes you feel and why.

What's happening now?

  • What are some examples today of hate speeches and how do you think they affect the communities they're speaking about?

What Can I Do?

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